Hoops Technology and Applications; suggestions, tips and tricks to improve your basketball team
Dealing with COVID-19
There is no doubt that these are unprecedented times. There is no rule book for Governments to use to make decisions, and little ability to forecast what happens next. I am sure that in the scheme of our lives, this will be over quickly, and things will get back to normal. I worry though about the by-product of this virus. On the one hand, obvious concerns are the wellbeing of elderly family members and also the economic impact on our sport and the wider community. On the other hand, there is also the consideration on the athletes I work with in their ongoing development and growth in this sport. Questions that come to my mind in this regard:
Are they staying focused on improvement?
How are they improving with no games, practices, and almost no access to facilities?
At the forefront of my mind is that basketball is a sport that can provide many of them with life changing college scholarships, international travel, friendships and relationships, and even their professional careers in ways I won’t go into detail on here.
I personally am using this time from a basketball perspective to educate myself and others (EG: this blog you are reading now), working with college coaches and athletes. We have a number of athletes we are assisting with their recruiting at the moment. We've also offered mentoring and advisory services via our socials, and a range of athletes along with their parents have reached out for this opportunity. One has even asked for a featured athlete to be involved in the conversation which we have been able to facilitate with great outcomes.
We’ve been doing everything we can to add value to our guys in this period. I am a strong believer in maximising the value to any athletes that want to work with me, and willing to invest in themselves wholeheartedly, and over the break have been providing video breakdown and analysis, HomeCourt AI reviews, Whatsapp mentoring to not only the guys in my team but also beyond.
Overview of tech in our club team
My team is packed with high level pro and college prospects probably like no other Division 1 district or representative team in the history of the sport in the country. The competition in the Friday night games so far this year was, well, not a challenge for my guys. We won our Grand Final in summer by 35 pts in a canter and so with the level of competition we face we have to use ways other than the scoreboard to challenge our guys and measure their development. Our success cannot be measured solely by the scoreboard. It is multidimensional, requiring multiple measures.
For my team this year video breakdown, review and KPI assessment is important for us because it helps us focus on process related goals and execution at games and practice rather than the big wins we get in the games. Judging our development purely on beating a team by 50 pts that we may have only beaten by 30 pts the first time we played them is not going to be a good measure. Training analysis and intensity monitoring was also super important. Our guys' extreme growth and development during this period came from our practices as well as process driven goals in games. For practices, the opportunity for the best players in the state and many of the best in the country to come together and fight it out for 4 hours per week, in a great learning environment, is immense value to their development, growth and future success in the sport. We have used technology to also get the most from our practices, whilst delivering process driven improvement in games.
Here, we will breakdown a few tools, how we use them, tips and tricks we use. These can be adapted and used for any team at any level, as appropriate. The tools we are looking at are:
Vegas Movie Studio 16
The number 1 tool we have decided to implement this season is HUDL. This tool is brilliant due to its comprehensive functionality. Unsurprisingly, it is used by teams all over the world at all levels to scout teams and provide video feedback to players. All team members contributed to the licensing fee and therefore it is in everyone’s interest to get good use and value from it.
This is a really comprehensive software package and we are learning and refining how we use it all the time. I hope to give you some use cases, tips and tricks very briefly here. We purchased HUDL because initially we were using video editing software that was not in the cloud. It was only me able to do the editing. By using HUDL my fantastic 2xACs (Will Smith and Raymond Harding) are able to assist with breaking down the tape and games online. For tournaments, one of our parents can also assist with this process.
I have 2 great ACs in Raymond Harding and Will Smith. Ray was a great player for South Australian basketball helping the U20 state side win a historic gold medal in 2017 and helping the 2016 U18 SA Metro earn a top 4 finish. He played College ball at Northern Iowa Area Community College, was a member of the Adelaide 36ers young guns training and development program this past NBL season and will be a star player for North Adelaide’s NBL1 team (when it goes ahead).
Will was a former Premier League Coach in South Australia before heading overseas to coach in some big programs including NBA China, St Louis Christian Academy (a top prep school in the US for basketball), Mokan AAU (one of the top AAU programs in the United States) and Zaza Pachulia Basketball Academy in Tbilisi, Georgia. Will’s global knowledge and experience in coaching some of the best young players in the world whilst in the USA and coaching in other development programs goes without saying, but in this context his video cutting and game analysis ability has been valuable too.
Moving video editing to this platform and getting great value out of these great basketball minds has been of real importance as we implemented this initiative.
The first step is to break down and tag our games. We use the standard "out of the box" tags plus custom tags to cut footage into clips for learning purposes. The custom tags we’ve developed through lots of trial and error are:
Scout – we use this tag to capture x's o's for some other teams. We don’t tend to scout too many teams locally due to the need to just focus on ourselves. Having said that,for learning and development purposes, so our guys get used following a scout, we will scout a couple teams.
Offense execution good (or poor)
Defence good (or poor)
We then have a whole bunch of subtags we can use. These include specific non-negotiables we are doing well or poorly, specific sets and wrinkles we are running and traps or zones we are running. We add to these as required depending on what we want to emphasis and/or capture
PICTURE: This shows the cutting module of HUDL. Here coaches can efficiently tag the games. Out of the box tags that come by default can be used but you can also add in custom tags to show players what they need to improve on, scout some opposition teams and do analysis on what is working and what isn't.
PICTURE: Once broken down you get Advanced Analytics on your game which we use to provide feedback to the guys. There's a range of team KPIs our team developed during our team values development ((blog here: "Establishing your team vision, values and KPIs" https://bit.ly/2wuMbDZ) which can be displayed within HUDL on the Goals section.
PICTURE: After each game we also take clips for each individual player, our sets that work well, defenses that work and do not work well. We can then use an IPAD at practice, or send notes to them via Whatsapp, to show guys their footage in our feedback groups. We have been able to cut player highlight clips at the click of a few buttons too, once all the footage has been tagged. As the recruiting process heats for these guys this will be very, very useful.
PICTURE: This shows packages of our offensive and defensive non-negotiables (good and bad) and other breakdowns too. We don't use a play book as such, we show the kids our plays in video. Our offenses are 90% concept based, with so many reads and wrinkles it is virtually impossible to draw them into play book to make sense. Video analysis and watching video to see our principles in action is very useful.
VIDEO: This video shows examples of an individual player clips package, it then shows how we breakdown our team defensive principles using diagrams and all players contribute with comments using the discussion tool to give each other feedback. We also show the reports section (without going into to many breakdowns and giving our secrets away) you see the basics of the kind of reports you can get.
Vegas Movie Studio
We use Vegas Movie Studio to package highlight clips. Over the years, through coaching Junior teams, I’ve found highlight packages on the team that endorse team values, goals and KPIs are really motivating for young athletes, not to mention parents (never forget parents are important stakeholders in your program too). We’ve also packaged individual highlights using Vegas Movie Studio as well with schools from all the power 5 conferences and many more checking out our guys with the highlight packages we've made.
Vegas Movie Studio is around $150 (from memory) and regular upgrades come out every year for a small fee.
PICTURED: Vegas Movie Studio showing timelines and video preview.
With Vegas Movie Studio you use various timelines to and cut clips of film, text and music in and out of the package you’re working on. I often use PowerPoint to do the intro to the highlights which includes player bio and their strengths. I embed the PowerPoint footage into the video package.
For highlights packages, I normally use a YouTube downloader tool to download the MP3s of the songs the player featured in the highlight chooses and then add that to the appropriate music timeline to overlay with the footage.
There are many tricks and patterns I’ve worked with over the years that work well. This includes, when to use the fade tool for music and/or footage, slow motion replays of footage, different ways to group the clips and how to display the text during the footage, using transitions, special effects, amongst other things.
For the price, especially considering the simplicity of learning how to use the tool, this is a great video editor for the final cuts for player highlight packages from HUDL. My guys are greatly appreciative when we put these together and it is a way that we can add more value to them when they share their footage with families and friends and, very importantly too, college coaches that might want to recruit them.
With footage already tagged in HUDL and able to be downloaded based on certain stats tagged in the footage it is easy to quickly get footage of skillsets which focus on what college coaches are looking for. With HUDL and Vegas Movie Studio, developing highlight packages has been greatly streamlined and improved this season. Here are some team and invidiual highlight packages of the guys in this amazing team:
VIDEO: Highlight package and values of the U18 Div 1 Men's team. In developing our team values we developed this highlight package of the team of things want to emphasis (hard defence and great team work in offense), which also shows our team values throughout the video footage. We used Vegas Movie Studio to compile clips from HUDL and Playsight into this package.
VIDEO: Here is a highlight package of one of the toughest, most versatile small guards in the country, Dylan Marshall, This package was put together with Vegas Movie Studio, Powerpoint and HUDL. #D1ProspectAlert.
VIDEO: Here is the highlights for one of our players, Fiston Ipassou, U17 National Squad for FIBA World Champ member. Fiston is one of the most athletic players in the country. This package was put together with Vegas Movie Studio, Powerpoint and HUDL. #D1ProspectAlert.
VIDEO: Top 8 Dunk clips. This was a fun video put together to show the top 8 dunk clips of all Featured Athletes highlight packages.We used quite a few extra functions in the tool including transitions, name title on the bottom as well as colour enhancements and touchups.
There are many other youtube highlight packages public and hidden of our guys on on HighPerformanceHoopsNetwork.com youtube page:
Playsight is an amazing, state of the art tool that my club’s home basketball stadium has available. It is a global state of the art product that includes cameras in the roof to capture trainings and games from multiple camera angles. With simply an iPad, we can show athletes their clips during practice or we can take the footage from practice, download it from Playsight, then upload the footage into Hudl for editing and cutting.
Whilst this tool is venue specific to the North Adelaide Rockets, other clubs can sign up to access this tool for games at the home of the Rockets too and coaches can also utilise it in these ways. The AIS gym has a Playsight setup and I would expect this, or similar technologies, to be installed in more and more venues over time. Also, coaches and players can sign up for feeds from all over the world once they have created an account in Playsight, this includes AAU basketball in the USA, U20 National Championships and many more all over the world.
Our practice structure heavily revolves around small group games, we put in constraints and rules within our games to ensure they are playing, reading, reacting, with a focus on certain teaching points. Showing the efficacy of these teaching points to what players want to achieve (making plays, scoring and creating for others) through tape is very effective. Often in games players don't want to try out new ideas so showing them working in practices can build their confidence up in team or individual concepts.
PICTURED: Overview of Playsight. Like Hudl, it is online, meaning all coaches and athletes have ready access to the application from wherever they have the internet.
PICTURED: here you can see the editing tool in Playsight. You can cut any tape segment and label it for later review or download.
VIDEO: This video shows a lot of the features you have with this amazing application. You have 4 camera angles on at once, including the ability to follow and track play, as the SmartTracker camera is able to follow ball movement.
The next tool is one I've been using since the NBL preseason. The 36ers used this tool initially as it was still being developed and I've also found it a great tool to track Featured Athletes currently overseas in college in their workouts. How this tool works is simply amazing. Without sensors in the ball, on the athlete or on the court the application, through the camera, is able to provide amazing data on shooting, ball handling, athletic development and testing. I still cannot comprehend how it works and the company that develops the application keeps adding more and more functions, drills and footage to it.
Up until the Covid-19 pandemic, I was mostly using the shooting drills module of the application for many of my workouts. The application tracks how many shots we take and make in our workouts and where from the court they are taken from. I can tag players in the workout at the end of the workout, and then each player can access footage from their workouts. The shooting workout footage is broken down in various ways including: full workout, best 25 shots, most consecutive made 3 pt shots etc etc. The application can also provide verbal cues that are nice and loud as a I bring a large portable bluetooth speaker to workouts. Things like arc of the shot, speed of release, height of release etc etc are some of the analytics available in real time during the workout. These provide real measurable process driven data for athletes to use to improve shooting.
PICTURED: Homecourt.AI setup. Here you see the IPAD setup on the tripod with a large blue tooth speaker further to the right for tunes and the AI barks out orders and updates from the Homecourt app. All the while Featured Athlete Isaac White (pictured) probably sets another world record on the app's leaderboard.
Homecourt.AI has continued to develop. They now include many shooting drills, ball handling and athletic development. This product must be booming during Covid-19 isolation as parents, athletes, coaches and officials are looking for ways to encourage athletes to continue to improve whilst not having access to gyms or coaching. Within the application you can build a team and easily track scores and performances of athletes listed within your team, who have registered, easily and efficiently. At time of writing our team is planning a HomeCourt.AI Challenge to see who gets the highest scores in some of the challenge drills.
Along with the smart drill tracking there is a huge library of videos of NBA players explaining where and how each drill fits into games and key points of emphasis for executing the drill. I have found the delivery of these video segments really insightful and useful. Another recent feature has been NBA athletic testing. This module tests athletes wingspan, height, vertical leap, ball handling and shooting and supposedly the data is picked up by various NBA Youth Development Academies around the world for their talent identification. This module needs a bit more work, having recently tried it and finding the critical height and wingspan results quite inaccurate, I am sure this will improve in time though.
Below I have provided video and screenshots of a broad range of examples of this application which will help new and current users alike get more ideas out of the application.
Video: Coach Jantke giving the Crossover ball handling drill the once over. Here you touch the green circles as quick as you can, the quicker you do it the more points you get. Then if you get to the blue circle you can crossover the ball for a few seconds getting rapid points for each cross. Janx score is not great but not too bad either. For fun, see if you can beat it.
VIDEO: Here is Fiston going through some shooting using the shooting module in his backyard court. This shows shots Fiston has made and position on the court he has made them from. It is great to be able to see his workouts remotely and how is progressing his shot. Side note; well done Fiston for all your work and improvement on your 3 pt shooting #D1ProspectAlert.
VIDEO: Here, one of the top shooters in the country, Callum Iseppi, is also showing he has some handles. Here he is going through the combo dribbling drill. You can see how the application gives feedback to ensure he is following the drill to the letter. "Dribble higher", "Dribble Lower", "Dribble Wider" are some examples of teaching cues the application provides verbally. Another #D1ProspectAlert.
VIDEO: Here is Dylan Marshall showing he has handles. Dylan doing the crossover drill. Another #D1ProspectAlert.
VIDEO: Here, Yaak Yaak, already being recruited by household name programs, is showing his handles for a 6'9'' guy with developing guard skills. Yaak constantly improving through hard work and determination. This is the 300 Combo drill, you can see the AI in the app constantly giving feedback. Another #D1ProspectAlert.
VIDEO: Back on to Callum showing off his shooting in one of our benchmark shooting drills, well known across South Australian basketball, the OKC drill. Alex Mudronja (Adelaide 36ers) and Toby Woolcock (Woodville Warriors) rebounding/passing.
VIDEO: Working off pick and roll moves more D1 prospects in Riley Real (U18 SA Metro, North Adelaide Rockets) and Toby Woolcock (Woodville Warriors NBL1), again the Homecourt feedback and ability for athletes to visually access their own workouts on their own IPAD afterwards is invaluable.
VIDEO: HomeCourt is useful at ALL levels including NBL. Not to be outdone in the pro ranks, here we are with Joey Wright, Coach Janx, Michael Harris (Adelaide 36ers), Deshon Taylor (Sydney Kings via Fresno State), Harry Froling (Adelaide 36ers via Marquette), Isaac White (Stanford) and Bijan Johnson (Adelaide 36ers) working out with Homecourt tracking and monitoring performance. Preseason shooting comps for cash prizes were a useful too in the preseason.
PICTURED: Showing Data such as score, dribble speed, calories burned, which hand used and number of crossovers. This information is custom specific for the crossover drill. Other drills provide other data.
PICTURED: Adding members to our team we can see everyone's score in 1 spot and develop a team skills competition.
PICTURED: Global rankings are available for the month and all time for each skill. This creates fun challenges and benchmarks for players. Here you see Coach Janx is 2nd all time in the world for 600 dribble combo, may or may not have had help from one of his athletes 😊
PICTURED: Here is a sample of the amazing feedback from the shooting application. Release time is important and can help players correct flaws that may be hampering their ability to get a shot off at higher levels.
PICTURED: One of the most important shooting metrics other than it going in or not is release angle. High angle shots, to a certain degree, are more accurate and harder to block. Do some research to work out the ideal angle for certain types of shots and work towards that.
PICTURED: Here is an example of the application amazingly able to breakdown the type of shots taken during our workout.
PICTURED: Again, another amazing feature. The app is able to break down shots attempted and made from certain positions on the floor .Not a great shooting display but this was tough contested floaters just inside the free throw line. Not an easy shot but it is a useful to have in the bag.
There are many more drills and ideas on this application. For example athletic drills such as lateral speed, hurdle jumps (with virtual hurdles) are great for working on speed, fitness and athleticsm.
For the first time ever, this year, I began to use Survey Monkey for my team. This is a very useful record keeping and data archiving tool, and a great tool to efficiently and effectively capture information from team members and parents.
In the past I’ve written on our team goal setting and evaluation processes (blog here: "Establishing your team vision, values and KPIs" https://bit.ly/2wuMbDZ) and of course these have always been finetuned and tweaked, one of the outcomes of which this year were using Survey Monkey to better learn about our guys, including their goals.
Previously I’ve captured this surveys on paper and players have handed back their written answers. This is inefficient, subject to lose the responses and they need to be stored physically somewhere. An online tool like survey monkey has provided solutions to all these issues.
I will note a few ways we used this survey and I am sure you can use these processes with your teams:
Survey 4 – Team leadership group – The final survey was to gather, player, coach and manager’s feedback on who our team’s leadership group should be, using a 3/2/1 voting scheme. We also asked how many should be in the leadership group and finally for any other input or thoughts. By the way congrats to our team Captain Dylan Marshall and deputy co-captains Aimable Ciza and Riley Real.
Survey 3 – Individual goal setting – here players completed their goals based on the standards and guidelines I previously highlighted in this article, Importance and process for individual goal setting https://bit.ly/3ebqGZW
Survey 2 – Getting to know you – each player is assigned to a coach (including our 2 Assistant Coaches) as a feedback group. The types of questions in this survey included things for the player’s feedback coach to get to know them. Questions included issues such as; basketball journey so far, what you love about the game, how each player sees their strengths, what they love about the game and favourite subjects at school type questions. We then distributed the details from the survey amongst coaches with coaches working with the survey in their feedback groups. This survey provides insights for our team's goal setting, values and KPIs too. It works out things that players want in their team and don't want through values. I previously wrote an article on this ideas, here:Establishing your team vision, values and KPIs https://bit.ly/2yRYhIg
Survey 1 – Preseason – here we surveyed our guys on there preferences for preseason preparation which included costs, locations and times.
All our athletes, coaching staff, team manager and most of our parents are in our team Whatsapp group. This is a great messaging application that is easy to manage. We post training updates, game updates, video footage and requests for tasks here. Of course, there is the odd joke and funny picture posted from time to time too. During the COVID-19 shutdown we’ve been using this tool to stay engaged, in touch and finding was to improve too.
We share access tothe group via an invite link and always ask people to post when they initially join so everyone can update our contacts and so we know who is posting. We will often also ask for input in regards to game tape, style of game and x’s and o’s type questions for our players to contribute ideas to. We use this as the glue and mesh between all the applications,and we communicate updates and tasks for the other applications. Most of our game concepts are based on European or NBA games so we use footage from those games to provide examples too.
Some guidelines we have for the group:
Don't say anything there that you would not say offline and are willing to be accountable for, in lines with other team rules (and club policies).
Parents are encouraged to join and observe.
No posting between 10 PM and 7:30 AM or during school times on a school day.
Obviously the guidelines and rules would be somewhat dependent on the age group, but that's how my team does it.
The technology available is a huge advantage in our team's development pre and during COVID-19. Post COVID-19 we will even be able to get more out of these technologies as our capabilities to use them has been even further developed over this period.
We have been able to work as a coaching team using this technology leveraging all our knowledge and skillsets collectively for editing, analysis and breakdowns. It has leveraged and sped up learning for our players, whilst giving them the ability to self assess, adding value with their highlight packages, improved engagement and connection with them and skill development and feedback (both through artificial intelligence and coaches).
Developing knowledge and skills in these applications gives our teams a big advantage and there is no reason that other coaches and teams can't do likewise.